There is growing interest in understanding calcium dynamics in dendrites, both experimentally and computationally. Many processes influence these dynamics, but in dendrites there is a strong contribution of morphology because the peak calcium levels are strongly determined by the surface to volume ratio (SVR) of each branch, which is inversely related to branch diameter. In this study we explore the predicted variance of dendritic calcium concentrations due to local changes in dendrite diameter and how this is affected by the modeling approach used. We investigate this in a model of dendritic calcium spiking in different reconstructions of cerebellar Purkinje cells and in morphological analysis of neocortical and hippocampal pyramidal neurons. We report that many published models neglect diameter-dependent effects on calcium concentration and show how to implement this correctly in the NEURON simulator, both for phenomenological pool based models and for implementations using radial 1D diffusion. More detailed modeling requires simulation of 3D diffusion and we demonstrate that this does not dissipate the local concentration variance due to changes of dendritic diameter. In many cases 1D diffusion of models of calcium buffering give a good approximation provided an increased morphological resolution is implemented.